The legend of the Ashes was born in August 1882. In an historic match between the English and visiting Australians – in a game with extraordinary turns of fate – Australia beat the home side at the Oval in a match that looked unlosable for the English. By week’s end, the Sporting News had published a satirical obituary, penned by Reginald Shirley Watkinshaw Brooks, claiming that English cricket was dead and that its body would be cremated and the ashes taken to the distant homeland of the victorious.

The funereal symbolism deepened when the English visited the colonies some months later in an effort to regain the ashes. Under Ivo Bligh, the English did indeed take out the Test series, winning the first and fourth matches. But it was the revelry of a group of Melbourne women during the tour that realised the metaphor behind the challenge. After a friendly Christmas match at Sunbury won by the visiting English, the women presented Bligh with a small terracotta urn. This was apparently filled with the charred remains of either the bails or ball from the game in which they’d triumphed. Bligh returned to England with the small urn of ashes – also with a promise of marriage from Florence Morphy, one of the women responsible for the urn.

Two years after her husband died in 1927, Dame Florence Bligh presented the ashes to the Marlyebone Cricket Club (MCC), England’s premier cricket club. The fragile urn is kept permanently in the collection of MCC museum; since the 1998–99 series, a Waterford crystal trophy has been presented to the winner of the Ashes series. Over the history of the Test match series, England has won the Ashes 31 times and Australia’s recent victory sees it inching ahead with 32 wins. The series has been drawn five times.

In 2013/14, Australia made a clean sweep, finishing the series 5–0 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Over the five Test matches, the scores were:

FIRST TEST 21–24 November 2013 at the GABBA
Australia 295 (97.1) & 7/401 (94.0) (dec)
England 136 (52.4) & 179 (81.1)
Australia won by 381 runs

SECOND TEST 5–9 December 2013 at the Adelaide Oval
Australia 570 (158.0) (Dec.) & 3/132 (39.0) (dec)
England 172 (68.2) & 312 (101.4)
Australia won by 218 runs

THIRD TEST 13–17 December 2013 at the WACA
Australia 385 (103.3) & 6/369 (87.0) (dec)
England 251 (88.0) & 353 (103.2)
Australia won by 150 runs

FOURTH TEST 26–29 December 2013 at the MCG
Australia 204 (82.2) & 2/231 (51.5)
England 255 (100.0) & 179 (61.0)
Australia won by 8 wickets

FIFTH TEST 3–5 January 2014 at the SCG
Australia 326 (76) & 276 (61.3)
England 155 (58.5) & 166 (31.4)
Australia won by 281 runs


SE Products is a Melbourne-based sporting and entertainment merchandise-development company. This is the first stamp issue that it has designed for Australia Post.

Products released in this issue

  • Stamp pack
  • Special stamp pack (two sheets of 10 x 60c stamp and facsimile of original obituary)
  • Minisheet
  • First day cover 
  • Maxicard set
  • Sheetlet of 5 x $2.60 stamp
  • PNC

Technical specifications

Issue date
20 January 2014
Issue withdrawal date
31 July 2014
1 x 60c, 1 x $2.60
Stamp design
SE Products
Product design
SE Products
Paper - gummed
Tullis Russell
Printer - gummed
McKellar Renown
Paper self-adhesive
Printer self-adhesive
McKellar Renown
Printing process
Stamp size
52mm x 37.5mm
Sheetlet size
Minisheet size
170mm x 80mm
14.6 x 13.86
Sheet layout
Module of 50 (design in gutter)
FDI postmark
Sydney, NSW 2000
FDI withdrawal date
30 April 2014

Stamps in this issue

60c The Urn Returns

An illustrative design showing the original urn.

$2.60 International Australia’s Ashes Victory

The Australian team celebrates with the Waterford crystal trophy following its series win

This content was produced at the time of the stamp issue release date and will not be updated.